Frederick W. Sibley

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Frederick William Sibley
Born(1852-10-17)October 17, 1852
Fort Phantom Hill, Texas, United States
DiedFebruary 17, 1918(1918-02-17) (aged 65)
United States
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1874–1917 (USA)
RankUnion Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brigadier General (USA)
Commands held
Battles/warsAmerican Indian Wars

Spanish–American War

  • served within Continental U.S.

Border War

Spouse(s)Fannie Lane (June 26, 1866-September 4, 1923)

Frederick William Sibley (October 17, 1852 – February 17, 1918), was a career United States Army officer. In addition to serving during the Indian Wars, he was Commandant of Cadets at the United States Military Academy from 1908 to 1911.

Early life[edit]

Frederick W. Sibley was born at Fort Phantom Hill in Texas on October 17, 1852, to U.S. Army Colonel Caleb C. Sibley and Nancy Davenport-Sibley. In 1869 at the age of 16, Frederick was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point from Georgia, and graduated in the class of 1874.

Indian Wars[edit]

Sibley was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd United States Cavalry Regiment on June 17, 1874 and initially stationed in Nebraska before moving to Wyoming Territory. In March, 1876, he participated with Company E, 2nd Cavalry in the Big Horn Expedition, and on March 17, fought with his company in the Battle of Powder River, Montana Territory. Three months later on June 17, Sibley participated in the Battle of the Rosebud under General George Crook. The battle was a defeat for Crook's men, and they retreated to Goose Creek in Wyoming Territory.

Sibley Scout[edit]

After remaining idle for more than two weeks at Goose Creek, on July 6, 1876 General Crook ordered Lieutenant Sibley to take 25 men and two scouts, Big Bat Pourier and Frank Grouard, and make a reconnaissance to the north to locate Indians. Two civilians joined Sibley's party, bringing the total up to 30 men. While traveling down the Tongue River in the vicinity of present-day Dayton, Wyoming, the scouting party discovered a large party of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors moving south very close to them. Their only chance of escape was to take a trail to the Bighorn Mountains. The war party followed closely, and after surviving attacks by pursuing Indians, the patrol abandoned their horses and traveled deep into the rough steep terrain of the Tongue River Canyon system on foot. Over several days the group was able to evade the Indian force, after which they walked over thirty miles out of the mountains back to the Goose Creek camp, arriving worn out and fatigued but with no casualties. For this event, Lieutenant Sibley was brevetted to First Lieutenant for "gallantry in action on the Little Big Horn River". In July 1876, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor.[1][2]

On September 9–10, 1876, the now First Lieutenant Sibley participated in the Battle of Slim Buttes, in Dakota Territory.

Later service[edit]

On September 1, 1877, at Fort Sanders, Wyoming, Sibley married Fannie Lane, the daughter of Colonel E. D. Lane. He then served as the Adjutant of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry from 1889 until 1893. In 1898, during the Spanish–American War, Sibley commanded the Headquarters Guard of the IV Army Corps, under Major General John J. Coppinger. He again served as the Adjutant of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry from 1899 to 1900. In 1900, Sibley became the Inspector General of the Department of Texas, and remained in that position until the following year. In 1902 he was promoted to the Major of the 11th United States Cavalry Regiment. He was then made the Adjutant General of the Department of Luzon, in the Philippines from 1903 to 1904, and was in command of squadrons of the 2nd Cavalry and battalions of the 7th U. S. Infantry, which suppressed Landrones of Cavite and Bantangas Provinces, 1905, returning invalided to the United States. He was selected for detail to the General Staff, but declined the position in December, 1908. From February 1, 1908 until February 1, 1911 Sibley served as the 28th Commandant of Cadets at West Point. He was then promoted to the Colonelcy of the 14th United States Cavalry Regiment on March 3, 1911. In that position Sibley took part in the Pancho Villa Expedition of the Border War into Mexico in 1916. In July, 1916 he was appointed a Brigadier General, and due to his age, retired from the United States Army in October, 1917 after 42 years of service in the United States Cavalry. Frederick W. Sibley died on February 17, 1918, and is buried beside his wife Fanny in Section 2 of the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C..[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Life and Adventures of Frank Grouard, Joe DeBarth, Combe Printing Company, St. Joseph, Missouri, 1894, pp. 266–292.
  2. ^ Troopers with Custer: Historic Incidents of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, By E. A. Brininstool, J. W. Vaughn, Published by Stackpole Books, 1994, ISBN 0-8117-1742-9, ISBN 978-0-8117-1742-7, pp.193–218.
  3. ^ "Frederick William Sibley".
  • Finerty, John F. War-Path and Bivouac 1890. pgs. 173–196
Military offices
Preceded by
Robert Lee Howze
Commandant of Cadets of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
Fred Winchester Sladen